Sunday, January 20, 2013

National Movement Hits a Nerve in the Reformer Camp

Certainly a sign that media mogul, owner of the NY Post, and education reform entrepreneur Rupert Murdoch and cronies are noticing the national movement by parents, community members and taxpayers against excessive, experimental, and expensive standardized testing. Groups all over the nation are organized, state legislatures are revisiting decisions on standards, testing, and database development. Washington State teachers are refusing to implement the tests.

What is the sign? Yellow journalism or presenting manufactured sensationalized new reporting and a personal attacks - classic and consistent with the NY Post reputation. Why else would yellow journalists Susan Edelman and Candice Giove fail to report on standardized testing itself and the national opposition rather than choose to launch a personal attack on Lisa Nielsen,  ONE long time critic of excessive national testing. The national opposition is large, but then real journalists with integrity would know that.

So what does the NY Post care about standardized testing? Its owner cares.

In June 2011 Forbes reported that Murdoch's News Corp hired New York State Chancellor Joel Klein to develop an education division. Kristen Kane, former chief operating officer of the New York City Department of Education, was tagged to become COO of this News Corp unit. Two weeks later, Murdoch purchased Wireless Generation, a company that develops software and data systems to track student progress. The company is a contractor for the New York city school system. But Wireless Generation was awarded a $27 million no-bid contract, it got attention - too much attention, and the deal was investigated and the contract was "quietly rejected" by New York State Controller Thomas DiNapoli.

Regarding the $360 million dollar purchase price for Wireless Generation, Murdoch had this to say:

"Education in the U.S. is a $500 billion sector “waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching,” said Murdoch in a statement, and Wireless Generation is at the “forefront” of individualized, tech-based learning."

No testing, no data. No data, no need for million dollar contracts in each state and school district in the U.S. No contracts, no return on big investments.

Who pays? Who benefits???  The critics will not be so easily silenced. There are far too many now and far too smart to be fooled.

Related articles:


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Garfield Stand and the Common Core: Will They Both Come to a School Near You?

 The “Garfield Stand” may eventually come to a school near you following the roll out of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and related assessment implementation across the country.  What is the Garfield Stand?  It is what the teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School are doing---they are taking a stand on important issues related to student assessment.  You can read about it in the letter from teachers at Garfield High School and at additional links provided below.  Teachers at another school, Ballard High School, are not just in sympathy with their Garfield colleagues; they are taking the same stand.

This may be the start of our seeing the hundredth monkey phenomenon related to the CCSS and other education reform issues. Individual teachers may not be comfortable or may even be fearful of speaking out on these issues but when they realize other colleagues have similar views and concerns, collectively they may take a stand as we see at Garfield. 

Is the Garfield Stand a preview of what we may see across the country in the not to distant future as teachers have first hand classroom experience implementing top down education reform mandates?

I encourage you to read the letter from the Garfield teachers.  The Ballard teachers wrote a letter supporting their Garfield colleagues.  That letter is copied below.  In a few years how many of the statements below will have a ring of truth if MAP is replaced with SBAC or PARCC assessments?

 25 teachers at nearby Ballard High School signed a letter against continuing to use the MAP test, and in support of our Garfield colleagues
·       The MAP test is a resource expensive and cash expensive program in a district with very finite financial resources,
·       The MAP test is not used in practice to inform student instruction,
·       The MAP test is not connected to our curricula,
·       The MAP test has been repurposed by district administration to form part of a teacher’s evaluation, which is contrary to the purposes it was designed for, as stated by its purveyor, making it part of junk science,
·       The MAP test has also been repurposed for student placement in courses and programs, for which it was not designed,
·       The MAP test was purchased under corrupt crony-ist circumstances (Our former superintendent, while employed by SPS sat on the corporation board of NWEA, the purveyor of the MAP test. This was undisclosed to her employer. The initial MAP test was purchased in a no-bid, non-competitive process)
·       The MAP test was and remains unwanted and unneeded and unsolicited by SPS professional classroom educators, those who work directly with students,
·       The MAP test is not taken seriously by students, (They don’t need the results for graduation, for applications, for course credit, or any other purpose, so they routinely blow it off.)
·       The MAP test’s reported testing errors are greater than students’ expected growth,
·       The technology administration of the MAP test has serious flaws district wide which waste students’ time,
                        We, the undersigned educators from Ballard High School do hereby support statements and actions of our colleagues at Garfield High School surrounding the MAP test. Specifically, the MAP test program throughout Seattle Public Schools ought to be shut down immediately. It has been and continues to be an embarrassing mistake. Continuing it even another day, let alone another month or year or decade, will not turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.

I salute the teachers at Garfield and Ballard for taking a stand.  I feel it is unfortunate teachers feel the need to take such a stand.  Should they, and other teachers across the country, be making more of the decisions that will directly effect their instructional practices and their students’ education or should those decisions continue to be made by remote educrats and others at district offices, state departments of education, business and corporate offices, wealthy foundations, and Washington, D.C.?

The letter from the teachers at Garfield High School regarding the MAP test

Letter of support for Garfield High School teachers from Diane Ravitch

Garfield High School teachers say “NO!” to high stakes testing

Standardized test backlash: Some Seattle teachers just say 'no'

Garfield High teachers won't give required test they call flawed

Garfield High teachers refuse to give standardized test

Garfield High teachers refuse to administer District-mandated reading and math test

Garfield High School teachers boycott MAP assessment test

This article was originally published January 12, 2013 on The Underground Parent at and is republished here with permission from the author.